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Not so very long ago, not so long as a generation ago, our heroes believed enough in their causes that they pursued them without self-recrimination.  Not only did they do so, but they supported and recruited others for the sake of their cause (gathered allies) and prepared a younger generation to follow in their footsteps (sidekicks).

Batman believes in his quest so much that he wants Robin to be able to join him, but also desires Robin to become better, less wounded than he himself had been.  These days that is only seen as, and rejected as, some sort of perverse overtone.  We are that far removed from apprenticeships, from Knights whose Squires went into battle at their side barely past adolescence, not because they cared nothing for the young, but because the causes of king and country, duty and honor, were seen as so important that they carried more weight than youth or age, pride of place or humility of birth.

We have come so far from true belief in an ultimate priority that we cannot even consider it as something other than an excuse.  That shows up in our lack of understanding of terrorists like ISIS, and our shock that they aren’t just fighting but training boys to fight in their stead and at their side.  It also means that we cannot understand our own pasts.

I have two stories I would dearly love to write, one a high fantasy tale of a sherrif’s son who decides that he will be a hero, and forges himself into one.  The other an urban fantasy of monster-fighting ninjas, where a dishonored master must take an unwanted pupil, and thereby prove himself or fail.

But both stories may be beyond the scope of people to read and understand in a world that has lost the concept of The Cause.

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